MBABANE: King Mswati has seized full control of the multi-billion Public Service Pension Fund(PSPF) to sustain his lavish lifestyle after grabbing Tibiyo TakaNgwane and the Eswatini National Provident Fund(ENPF) being investment funds established and owned by the people.
An independent investigation by this Swaziland News uncovered that on or around the 30th November 2014, shortly after instructing his Cabinet to convert the Pension Fund into a category A public enterprise through Legal Notice No. 150 of 2014, King Mswati subsequently intensified moves to influence his government to amend the Insurance and Retirement Funds Act 2005 with the sole intention of forcing Pension and insurance funds to invest 50% of the E32billion circulating within the insurance and retirement funds industry in the country where he has huge business interests.
Now, more evidence has emerged suggesting that the decision to amend the Insurance and Retirement Funds Act of 2005 was to legitimise looting within the Pension Fund as soon thereafter, there was a scramble for multi-billion loans by government and companies linked to King Mswati through Tibiyo TakaNgwane, some of these entities are now 'reluctant' to pay back the money, government's critics said these companies might be using the King's immunity to avoid litigation.
Reached for comments, lawyer Sibusiso Nhlabatsi when asked to share legal comments on the subject matter said the expectation was that these companies signed loan agreements with the Pension Fund hence they must abide by those agreements.
"We need to ask ourselves, if these companies being legal entities are not abiding by the loan agreements, what is preventing the Pension Fund from suing them, that's where Swazis should start carefully analysing this matter," said the lawyer.
But documentary evidence in our possession suggests that some of the companies linked to the King that benefitted from the Pension Fund's systematic looting include among others, Montigny Investments that benefitted over E156million while the powerful and the politically connected Inyatsi Construction owes pensioners over E603million.
Other entities include Select Management Services that benefitted over E103million and the Swaziland Sugar Association(SSA) that oversees the multi-billion sugar industry fully controlled by the King through Tibiyo TakaNgwane, it secured over E355million.
Evidence analysis conducted by this publication suggests that these loans were systematically structured and approved to fund royal linked investment projects that subsequently benefitted King Mswati and his royal family directly and indirectly through multi-million dividends declared to Tibiyo TakaNgwane.
When reached for comments, Elkan Makhanya, the Director of Corporate Services within the Public Services Pension Fund(PSPF) confirmed that he was the authorised person to respond to the media on behalf of the Fund, however, he asked not to comment on this matter.
“Yes, I am the one who speaks on behalf of the Pension Fund but I’ve got no comment on this matter” ,said the PSPF Coporate Services Director.
It has been disclosed through documentary evidence that apart from the systematic looting through royal linked companies, King Mswati literally looted over E3billion from the Pension Fund through various loans secured by the royal controlled public enterprises and the Eswatini Government, part of the money was subsequently transferred to the Central Bank of Eswatini(CBE) to fund royal activities that included international trips.
Financial documents sourced from the Pension Fund further discloses that in the midst of the looting, government was struggling to service loans amounting to over E2billion secured under reference numbers SG030(E100,715.111.00), SG031(E100 090, 160.00) and SG027A(E105 640, 938.00 among others, another E1billion was distributed to fund royal controlled State enterprises, this include the Swaziland Revenue Authority(SRA), a revenue institution that collects tax on behalf of King Mswati's government and the royal family.
Reached for comments, Elliot Mkhatjwa, the Chairman of the Swaziland Democratic Party(SWADEPA) who doubles as a member of the Swaziland Pensioners Association(SPA) said as pensioners they were fully aware that their Pension Fund was now controlled and looted by King Mswati and the royal family.
“We need to stand-up and demand that the fund be returned to the people, those royal linked companies that secured loans should be taken to court and be forced to disclose how they secured those loans. As citizens, we were thinking that the King was only enjoying billions from Tibiyo, a fund that was also stolen from us but now he is looting our pension monies, we need to stand up and protect our money” said the SWADEPA Chairman.
On or around 19th June 2018, Sandile Dlamini, the then Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority(FSRA) intended to launch an intensive investigation subsequent to findings and or recommendations of a preliminary investigation whose terms of reference was to establish if indeed there were irregularities in the manner in which companies were securing loans within the Pension Fund, however, the PSPF management ran to court to stop the investigation, insiders told this publication that a royal order was subsequently issued to Cabinet through the then Public Service Minister Owen Nxumalo to stop the investigation.
"The investigation by the FSRA into the affairs of the Pension Fund was stopped after it transpired that it might expose the dealings of the King within the Pension Fund",said an insider.
Reached for comments, Brian Sangweni, the Spokesperson of the People's United Democratic Movement(PUDEMO) said his organisation was not surprised that King Mswati has taken over the Pension Fund to sustain his lavish lifestyle.
"PUDEMO is not surprised to learn that King Mswati III has taken over the pension fund and made it his cash cow. Sadly, the pension fund was meant to sustain people who have worked, retired and their beneficiaries once they died. King Mswati's looting of the fund meant to benefit the ailing, widows and orphans is an exhibition of how ruthless and heartless the Monarch has become", said the PUDEMO Spokesperson.
On or around the 30th November 2015, subsequent to a 'hot' debate in House of Assembly, Members of Parliament (MPs) took a resolution that Cabinet must revoke and nullify Legal Notice No. 150 of 2014 that turned the Public Service Pension Fund into category A government enterprise.
Speaking to this Swaziland News, Saladin Magagula, the then Hhukwini MP and Chairman of the Parliament of the Select Committee that was tasked with investigating any irregularity and illegality into the conversion of the PSPF from being a privately owned entity to a public enterprise said the PSPF was no-longer a pension fund for the people, but it was long turned into a looting scheme for those in power.
"We did the investigation and uncovered that the intention of converting the Pension Fund into a category A public enterprise was to rip-off the pensioners monies, that thing is no longer a pension fund that is why Sibongile could not be allowed to part of the Board because they were afraid she would raise an alarm" ,said the former MP.
On another note, the desire by King Mswati to control and loot Pension Funds in the country resulted to Langalakhe Dlamini, the then Finance Manager of the Eswatini National Provident Fund(ENPF) being awarded a senior position as Chief Executive Officer(CEO) in the Public Service Pension Fund(PSPF), he replaced Cleopas Dlamini who, before being appointed a Senator, was also instrumental in looting the fund on behalf of King Mswati.
Langalakhe Dlamini, while working for the Provident Fund worked closely with Prince Lonkhokhela in approving investments that subsequently benefitted King Mswati and this include the E100million dairy farming project at Sidvokodvo that was established in a partnership between Old Mutual, PSPF and the Provident Fund, the project was officially opened in 2017 by the King.
The conversion of the Pension Fund into a category A public enterprise means King Mswati has seized full control of all the Funds that were initially established to assist Emaswati and this include the Eswatini National Provident Fund through his brother Prince Lonkhonkhela, the Chief Executive Officer(CEO), Tibiyo TakaNgwane through Managing Director Absalom Themba Dlamini and the Public Service Pension Fund through CEO Langalakhe Dlamini.
A diagram showing how King Mswati grabbed the Public Service Pension Fund after Tibiyo and the Provident Fund